Project to improved water security and community health & nutrition in India

All 13 districts of Bundelkhand feature in the Planning Commission of India's 200 most backward districts list and are characterized by some of the lowest levels of per capita income and human development in the country. Throughout most of the year the residents of areas experience acute scarcity of water for agricultural and domestic use. Persistence drought situation in the area has not been addressed by the drought declaration criteria or drought management manual of the state. There is approximately 50 percent deficit rainfall. In the region face serious water problems due to uncontrolled extraction of ground water, drying up of surface water sources, deforestation, maximum use of ground water, encroachment of catchments of traditional water bodies, climate change, etc. The area is water starved and water resources are degrading day by day. The scarcity of water is a direct fall out of environmental degradation and policies that encouraged centralised management of water resources post independence period. Ecological degradation combined with government policies that took away community ownership from traditional system has wrought havoc for the region. There is a clear mismatch between ground water extraction and recharge. Indigenous peoples both men and women are holders of ‘water knowledge'. Their traditional land management skills often provide the most effective method of water resource management in their settlement areas. However, indigenous peoples are seriously affected by their uncompensated and unsustainable loss of water to farming and other industries introduced from outside their communities. The region is also in the focus because of reports of hunger deaths, malnutrition among children, farmer suicide due to agricultural failure and debt and migration.
The key specific problems of the region are as following:
· Drinking water sources are unsafe, which leads to high incidences of water born diseases. In absence of water management, ground water table is declining day by day leading to drying up of many dug wells and tube wells.
· The area imbedded with caste and class related violence. Water is used as an instrument for social suppression.
· Low level of awareness- Hygiene awareness, especially amongst marginalized sections of the community- is very low. Poor sanitation and hygiene cause water-borne diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid and several parasitic infections. The social and environmental health costs of ignoring the need to address sanitation (including hygiene and wastewater collection and treatment) are far too great.
· Women, particularly from amongst economically weaker Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), suffer the most due to discriminatory access to drinking water. They have to spend about 3-4 hours a day to secure drinking water. Women are under-represented in the ‘water world', with careers and training in water management dominated by men.
· Water intensive crops are being used by farmers and less awareness about water use efficiency

Specific Problems…

· Ineffective and unrepresentative institutional infrastructure that does not priorities women's role in natural resource management and do not acknowledge women as the main user of water.
· Weak policy framework that side steps communities' and women's first right to water and undermined their role and leadership in realization of water-livelihood linkage while addressing poverty,
· Development policies emphasizing on economic opportunities over sustainable natural resource and management,
· Wide spread ignorance of both physical scarcity and environmental quality of water,
· Dilemma in the community to accept that women ‘as the main user, of water and manage water resources'.

Core idea, and how it differs from existing practices in the field - To contribute to improved water security and community health& nutrition in Bundelkhand region of India and to complement Government policies and programmes

The intervention of the organization has created a mass movement generating a positive advantage for women who are living on the edge of poverty. The organization has strengthened their traditional knowledge on water coupled with political empowerment will be a major step forward. The organization has done the multiple interventions with — media advocacy, coordination with different stakeholders at local and district levels which are associated with end poverty and drought mitigation projects and enhanced women's participation in water resources management.The organization has also contributed in increasing awareness among the Jal Sahelies (women groups working on water as water worriers) network.

The organization intervention helped in leveraging and multiplying of impact and initiated debate on caste and class conflicts resulting in discussion and concerns regarding ownership and access to resources. The sharing of multiple use of water for all purposes helped in reducing ongoing conflict and gender violence, which is prevalent in the region. The organization has shared the results of the project and created enough ground for the media, legislative and judiciary interventions towards full implementation of policies, schemes and programmes with gender sensitivity. The organization also reached among indirect beneficiaries of thousands of rural women who bear the disproportionate burden due to mis-management of natural resource and water bodies.

The organization intervention ensured water security among the target groups throughout the year and addressed the community needs of drinking water, irrigation water and water for livestock rearing. The organisation intervention also ensured accesses to improved sanitation facilities. Water security further contributed in enhancement of the livelihood of the community groups. Reduced incidences of water borne diseases observed among the target groups. Water security also contributed in reducing the incidences of the distressed migration in the project areas. Dalits & Tribes community groups has gained access & control over water & sanitation resources. The durable assets and water structure was developed in the areas with concentration of Dalits and tribes. The organization intervention also contributed in larger management of the natural resources, which ensured long-term livelihood security of the community members. The community members started gaining more benefits in the farming through adaption of better and effective farming practices & techniques. Better economic conditions of the community groups further encouraged them for taking proper care of their children / adolescents. The rate of enrollment and retention increased in the project areas especially of girls', Dalits & Adivasi children. The community members' risk was minimized in case of the drought situation, as organization intervention worked towards drought mitigation strategy.

Integrated Water Resource Management…
Integrated Water Resource Management is a process, which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resource in order to maximize economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems and the environment. The overall objective of the project intervention is to contribute to poverty reduction through Integrated Water Resource Management in selected project areas. The project is aiming towards developing models of improved water management practices and establishing and replicating amongst marginalized communities of selected areas of Bundelkhand. The other aim of the intervention is to institutionalize the processes and mechanisms for community management of water related resources and ensure increase access to entitlements.

Key Intervention of the Project…

Section 1. Community Organization
Water Worriers - JAL SAHELI is individual women / adolescents responsible for carrying forward the women water security agenda and providing leadership towards collective assertion for rights / entitlements. The Organization has mobilized women members and developed 300 Jal Saheli and engaged them in water management.

PANI PANCHAYAT - It is a community based village level institution, which is working towards protection, conservation & management of water resources as well as providing leadership for collective assertion for accessing due entitlements / rights. The organization has formed and strengthened 38 PANI PANCHAYAT, which has total of 2572 members with 783 women members. The members of PANI PANCHAYAT played striking roles in planning and implementation processes of integrated water resource management. The representatives of PANI PANCHAYAT participated in Gram Sabha meeting of 14 Gram Panchayat and incorporated 17 issues related to demand of safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and construction & revival of water resources.
Village Resource Centre - Total of 07 Village Resource Centre were formed during the reporting year, where as total of 20 Village Resource Centre are functional in the project areas and accommodating the information needs of the communities members mainly related to water resources conservation, protection & management, livelihood promotion and entitlements realizations. Total of 2134 villagers benefited through Village Resource Centre. Village Resource Centre provided supports in writing 37 applications under Right to Information, where as it helped in encouraging 307 job cardholders for demanding wage work under MGNREGA in the project areas.

Section 2. Community Based Planning

Water Security Plan- Water Security Plan is a community based participatory planning tools for management of natural resources. The planning process is first initiated by community members, which further validated in the respective gram panchayat for ensuring effective & transparent implementation through panchayat fund / government programme. The objective of preparation of water security tool is to empower people to conserve and manage their water & other natural resources for their multiple uses in agriculture, household needs and maintaining the ecological balance. 25 water security plans was prepared with participatory approach in support with community members and representatives of panchayats in the project areas. Total of 32 Water Security Plan was incorporated in the respective plan of gram panchayat. The plan was mostly centered on creation / revival of water bodies / resources and other natural resources. Total of INR 5,02,95,000 was mobilized through panchayat fund in the project areas for water security.

Section 3. Model Demonstration on Conservation, Protection and Management of Water Resources…
Traditional water bodies revived through effective cost management in the project areas with basic ideology of community participation and ownership -
02 Chandela tank were revived in Bangayn and Kati Village of Tikamgarh district, which has been benefiting 55 Farmers in irrigating their 281.5 acres of agricultural land in the project areas.
· Total of 11 rain water harvesting structures constructed in this annual year period, where as 03 rain water harvesting structures were constructed during previous years - all together total of 287.5 acre of agriculture land of 180 farmers becomes irrigated
· Water table of 39 wells increased due to construction of 14 rain water harvesting structures over the years in 10 villages of the project areas
· 05 new check dams constructed in this current Annual Years - total of 201.5 acre of agriculture land of 76 farmers becomes irrigated
· Bunding was done in 8 hectare of sloppy land, which helped in checking of soil erosion as well as retention of soil moisture
Section 4. Model Demonstration on Promotion of Water Use efficiency among community members…
· Total of 32 demonstration was done with progressive small & marginal farmers on improved agriculture farming such as SVI / SWI / SRI and LEISA. More than 200 small & marginal farmers adopted the practices of SVI / SWI / SRI and LEISA as an impact of learning from on-field training of demonstration in the project

· The organization has supported in establishing 10 traditional irrigation practices Rahat (Parisian Wheel), which has been benefiting 19 farmers in doing irrigation in the areas of 37 acre of agriculture land as well as started double cropping farming.

· The organization has supported in establishing 21 units of Pitcher Irrigation (Matka Drip). Pitcher Irrigation establishing in developing orchard of the farmers. 60 fruits plantation was done in each unit and the respective farmers are growing orchard through this irrigation unit.

Section 5. Convergence and Inter departmental coordination

Interface Meeting was held in presence of various types of stakeholders including village level service providers, block & district level government functionaries, media functionaries, PRIs representatives to villagers in the project areas, which helped in approval of Water Security Plan and increased pace of realization over social security schemes and access over water & sanitation services in favour of eligible beneficiaries.

Promotion of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities
· Women barefoot technician repaired 61 non-functional hand pumps in the project areas. It not only helped in reducing break down time of the repair& maintenance but involved women technician has gained their due respect to reversed gender role of this repair& maintenance work of hand pumps in the region.
· The project has supported in awareness generation on community led total sanitation (CLTS). The project team members also shared about negative impacts of open defecation through participatory processes - it ultimately resulted into construction of 386 households toilets in the project areas through leverage from government schemes.
· Total of 10 Eco-San Toilets was constructed with the support of project. This not only served the purpose of the sanitation need but it also generated bio-fertilizer and manure.
· The project has supported in doing Water quality testing of 24 water sources (hand pumps). The leaders of PANI PANCHAYAT did water quality test.
· Chlorination was done in 34 water sources under the leadership of respective PANI PANCHAYAT.
Section 6. Water Livelihood Linkages
· 267 new WADI was established in the project villages in support with community members.
· Income Generation Activities availed by 402 families, which also contributed in reduction in rate of migration from project villages.
· 25384 running meter land bunding was done in 11 villages, which has benefited 218 Families. 221Acreof land also treated which helped in checking of soil erosion and increasing the moisture retention.
· 15 new dug well constructed and 14 dug well deepened which has been supporting irrigation in 190 WADI.
· 188 families started Kitchen Garden with the demonstration support of the project, which helped in enhancing their nutritional status of families' members.
· As part of demonstration and replication approach, the organization has received successes in replication of Inter cropping and vegetable production by 50 farmers.